bias tape: only a little bit evil

It's taken me a while, but I've finally made my peace with bias tape. It really is amazing stuff - cut on the bias of the material, it conforms to curvy edges, perfect for necklines, seams with unravelly material, dress hems, and a million other projects where a finished edge is needed. Bias tape edges are so very neat and finished looking. They look quite lovely with contrasting fabrics. Bias tape even comes prepacked ready to use in all sorts of materials. Sounds like the perfect, right?

But why, oh why, does it have to be such a bugger to work with? Really, actually having to sew the stuff on is the only draw back.

My many-more-than-I-want-to-admit bias tape botch ups has afforded me a few lessons. Mistakes are the greatest lessons, yes? I am now a master.

Here is little list of things I've learnt about using bias tape:

- single fold bias tape is the greatest for lining necklines and seams on knits that do not need to stretch, but do need reinforced (like lap tee necklines). Place right sides together and stitch raw edges together. Turn right sides out, press, and top stitch tape in place.
- double fold bias tape has a narrower side. That narrow side is the side that should be up when you are sewing, so that you know for sure the wider side is also stitched.
- for sheer, slippery, or lightweight material, open up double folded bias tape and machine baste a raw edge along the raw edge of the fabric. Then fold the tape back up so the machine basted side is inside of the bias tape. Then do your regular stitching over top. This is also great for beginners, as you are ensured that you will not actually miss the fabric while sewing (as I am prone to do).
- if you are into glues, fabric glue stitck is also nice to hold your bias tape in place before stitching.
- for thicker material, do not bother with the machine baste, but sew slowly, adjusting the bias tape over the fabric as you go.
- for a nice curved edges, use your iron to shape the bias tape before sewing it on. The tape will stretch quite a bit to do curves, but heat and steam help it to hold the curvy shape.
- fold the ends of the tape back under about a 1/4" for a nice finish.

Got some more good tips? Please leave a comment and share your wisdom.


  1. Oooh yes bias tape! It intimidated me because I couldn't quite wrap my brain around what was supposed to go where... and I was apparently too chicken to trial and error it.

    Until I watched Amy Karol's (of Angry Chicken) video tutorial.


    I tried it out on the hem of a doll's dress and suddenly felt sheepish at my hesitance. It turned out to be easier than I thought.

    I really like your tutes, btw... very nicely laid out, in language that is easy to follow. I've known how to sew since I was ten or eleven, but only just recently pulled out my mom's old elnasuper and started making things for my 3 month old daughter.

  2. oh i am glad that i am not the only one who thinks bias tape is evil. thanks for your tips!

  3. That's funny, I LOVE bias tape and really dislike knit, go figure. So I made a cape in the round for my kid one Christmas and it was made of a silky polyester type fabric. Bias tape was PERFECT for finishing the hem and the the collar/neckline. I think I would have shot myself if I had had to do the hem without it (you know how it is, its 1 AM the night before....). I definitely agree with the basting on lighter fabrics. And make sure you use the correct needle, if not you end up 'punching holes' in the tape (because the several layers get thick) which doesn't look that pretty. By the way, any recommendations on needle type/size to use?

  4. Count me in as another believer! Amen and Amen Sistah! LOVE IT! I use it and seam binding on most of the garments I make because I cannot stand fraying or itchy edges, especially in children's clothing, so binding those edges is a must!

    Great suggestions, as always!

  5. Thanks all! Good tips. Must start checking out crafting videos - so many gems out there.

    Mamade, oh needles! Thanks for the reminder.

    Size always depends on fabric (don't go too large), but I always always forget to switch from a round knit needle to a pointy universal needle when it comes bias tape time. The needle needs to match the type of fabric the bias tape is, not the material being bound.

  6. When I first started making smocks, which I edge with bias tape, someone gave me the heads up to go up a size in tape. I was using regular run-of-the-mill 12mm tape and I kept missing the bottom layer. Now I use 19mm or 20mm tape and it works perfectly!
    Downside....The 19mm tape isn't easy to get hold of though - the regular places like Spotlight etc don't stock it. But it's perfect for doing multiple layer sewing.

  7. dernit!~it sounds like bias tape is one of those things that you just can't cut corners if you want it to look any good. i'm a corner cutter. that's why i ever try bias tape in the first place. i'll just be sure to use it only when i'm in a patient mood. thank you so much for the tips. my experiences thus far have all been nightmares! you can see my latest botch up here at my blog,
    for the good days...
    it's a mess! click on pinocchio's picture to see the crooked blue bias tape ribbon on the hat. it's positively embarrassing!

  8. My vintage singer 319K came with a bias tape foot. This is a fantastic attachment and I have been bias taping without fear ever since I got it!

    It is great for hemming things that might be too short if you take up a good hem or for curved hems which would need easing with an ordinary hem.

    Make your own like this http://www.fiber-images.com/Free_Things/How_Tos/free_how_to_make_bias_tape.html

    Then fold it like this http://creativelittledaisy.typepad.com/creative_little_daisy/2007/11/diy-version-of.html

  9. Bias tape drives me nuts, and that's because I've been using it incorrectly. Thank you vegbee!

  10. Bias tape can also be used on hems. I am a guy and I just used bias tape on my suit pant hem. I had to bring it down. I creased the hem to one inch, then on the inside fold of one edge of the tape I blind stiched it to the pinked edge that gives a clean flat reveal then I simply machine blind stiched the top to form the hem. The hem looks fantastic. The added bias tape give a weight and quality that the tailor's hem lacked.

  11. Ahh, bias tape. I scored an entire large bag of vintage bias tape at a thrift store a couple weeks back for a buck or two, so now I have lots to experiment with! I have had mixed success when trying to make my own bias tape, so I was glad to find the prepackaged kind so inexpensively! Thanks for the tips! Great website :)

  12. I love your title... only a little bit evil. I felt that way about bias tape for a long time.

    I have a bias tape tutorial too. I'm amazed how many people view it.

  13. Christine Sews,
    great tutorial! I've lost my bias tape maker some place (I've never been very good at it really anyway) but had the need last week to make up some 12 feet of bias tape. I have a short post about it here, where the title basically says it all:


  14. I love bias tape so much that I wrote this song about it:

    Bias tape bias tape, I love you so,
    you're so sticky and helpful when I sew.

    From cuffs to trims, you make it easy to hem, everything I use you for turns out like a gem.

    Ah, I love you bias tape.

    Mr. Bias Tape

  15. That's truly beautiful, Anon! As it so happens, I sing odes sometimes to my serger and I've been known to do a musical tribute every once in awhile to clear elastic too.

  16. Oh, bias tape!

    I make double-fold tape out of the fabric I'm taping (requires the use of my steam iron, of course) and it makes finishing heavy, curved edges or bordering things sooo simple. I just used it on a mid-weight gambeson (arming coat) and to border a tabard!

    Good article; I picked up some tips!